08 Aug 2022

Accountant who punched, kicked and stabbed partner given last chance to appeal

Accountant who punched, kicked and stabbed partner given last chance to appeal

Accountant who punched, kicked and stabbed partner given last chance to appeal

An accountant who punched, kicked and stabbed his partner in a case of "extreme domestic violence" has been given a last chance to appeal his conviction after the Court of Appeal heard he had fallen out with several legal teams hired to represent him.

Sidney Sutton (43) of Brindley Park Square, Ashbourne, Co Meath was convicted of four counts of assault, one of assault causing harm and one count of producing a knife capable of inflicting serious injury following a Circuit Court trial in 2017.

The offences occurred in the early hours of February 6, 2016 as Sutton and his partner, Edele Aherne, returned to their home after attending a wedding in Slane, Co Meath on the previous day.

Sutton had pleaded not guilty to all charges and accused Ms Aherne of assaulting him and inflicting her own injuries through self-harm.

The court heard Sutton had become aggressive in a taxi on the way home by pushing his partner in the head and also shoving her head against a wall after getting out of the vehicle.

On entering their home, Sutton punched Ms Aherne in the face and followed her into the bathroom where he continued to punch and kick her, dragged her to the floor and stamped on her legs.

He then returned to the bathroom with a knife and stabbed Ms Aherne in her leg and shoulder.

Speaking at the three-judge Court of Appeal this Monday, the father-of-two asked for an adjournment of his appeal hearing, saying his current solicitor told him on Friday that he would not be able to attend. Sutton said he is anxious to proceed and added that he is serving a sentence, "for a crime I didn't commit. My career is destroyed and I have missed two Christmases with my children."

President of the court Mr Justice George Birmingham replied: "You seem to have fallen out with a very large number of solicitors."

He said the State had "bent over backwards" to facilitate Sutton in what the judge described as a "protracted and sorry saga".

He added that it was with reluctance that he would adjourn the hearing to April 26 and added: "We want to make clear, it will proceed or go out of the list on that date."

If Mr Sutton is not able to proceed, Mr Justice Birmingham said the court will dispose of the appeal as if it has been abandoned. "This is a last opportunity to advance the appeal," he added.

He further told Mr Sutton that if he wants to argue that he received inadequate legal representation at trial then his trial lawyers must be put on notice so that they can respond.

Mr Justice Birmingham sat with Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy and Mr Justice Pat McCarthy.

The Court of Appeal previously ruled that Sutton's original sentence of two years in prison with the final 12 months suspended was unduly lenient and ordered him to serve a further 16 months.  

On that occasion Mr Justice John Edwards described the offence as "egregious", in particular the stabbing which he described as “the culmination of a prolonged incident involving extreme domestic violence.”

It is unusual for the court to hear an undue leniency application before hearing a conviction appeal, but Mr Justice Birmingham said it was necessary because of Mr Sutton's "reluctance or inability to get the appeal against conviction on".

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